Spoon – Battery Park, NYC

This past Summer Spoon played a free show at Battery Park in NYC. Rain delays kept them from starting for an hour, and forced them to finish the set early, but it was still a rocking show. It was primarily a preview show for this year’s release Gagagaga, but they included some of their better songs from Gimme Fiction as well.

Here for your pleasure is a pretty low-fi, shotty recording that I did of the event from my cheap MP3 player. It’s a pretty fuzzy recording, but if you want to get hi-fi, CD quality  tracks, go fork out the $8-$10 to buy Gagagaga.

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The Annuals – Eclectic but enjoyable

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Mixing a melodious sound reminiscent of recent Wheat, the Annuals Be He Me is quite eclectic. On some tracks it’s electronic, and minutes later it’s indie acoustics. The one thing that I usually have against Indie music is that artists often ditch a catchy melody in favor of experimental movements in music. This one has the best of both worlds. It can be utterly drab in some moments, and completely catchy on others. If you want a sampling of how good this album can be, try “Bleary Eyed” and “The Bull and the Goat” which are utterly singable, without sounding too “Poppy”.

One thing that usually “gets” me hyped about an indie track is an artists’ ability to infuse a nice piano mix into the music. This is one thing the Annuals have going for them, especially on the tracks “Father” and “Complete or Completing,” which feature a classy piano movement.

Enjoy a Cafe Rarity

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Cafe Tacuba. A rare band that you’ll only hear on Morning Becomes Eclectic on So Cal’s KCRW. They hail from Latin America, but have beautifully married their cultural roots with the Indie sound. I’ve enjoyed them for years, and then I found this one at the local library. Reves/Yo Soy is a 2000 release that’s nearly impossible to find. It’s a 2 CD set, one completely instrumental and the other featuring moving voice tracks rich in Spanish rythm and social commentary.

Only one word can capture the essence of Reves/Yo Soy: Haunting. Not many tracks would be considered “radio friendly” but after my first listening, the melodies and rhythms kept coming back to me. And the messages are entrancing. “Padre” is a song that captures the moment when you wake up and realize that after years of trying to avoid becoming like your dad, you’re there. “El Ave” is a brilliant social commentary mixed with up-tempo beat about the decaying state of society and the desire to escape it all.

I’ve found that the lyrics and musical genius of this album just don’t go away. Once you hear it for the first time, you’ll be hooked.

I was, and after seeing its $60 price tag on Amazon, I bought the copy the local library had and haven’t stopped listening to it since.

In Case You Missed it…Charge!

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Ok, so I bought this CD quite a while ago, but I started thinking about it when a student of mine in the Communication course I teach at the University brought it up in an informative speech about the Ska movement. The funny thing is, labeling The Aquabats’ 2005 release Charge! simply as “ska” just doesn’t do it enough good. This is much more than Ska…it’s some fantastic experiment in humor, satire, and down-right rocking music. It starts off with a serious poking-fun of mod/misfit fashion and moves effortlessly through the Aquabats’ unique but appealing mix of rock and general hero work (you know, defeating the evil impending horde that threatens to destroy the world and all surfing as we know it…just the usual) with rhythmic fashion. My favorite song is Hot Summer Nights, a satirical song about a guy whose delusional about a girl he met on the beach, and his utter inability to pick up on the hints she leaves him (and in this one, Christian plays the role of both the guy and the girl…it’s a must hear).

In a conversation with lead Singer Christian Jacobs, he told me, “I never thought I’d be a Superhero Rockstar when I was growing up”…I think there’s a reason why he is, and this CD is proof positive of why the Aquabats are still going strong.

The Else – High-Powered Goodness, Rich Diversion

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Ok, so it’s been out for a few months…my birthday didn’t come until this month, so I had to wait before I got this one (It’s an Indie Girl rule that TMBG cd’s that come out in the same year as my birthday must wait until my birthday before purchasing them).

So the question is, was it worth the wait? It depends on how many times you listen to it before you decide. For me, my first impression was way off. After my first run-through, I dubbed this another “Mink Car”…a notable song or two with filler.

Not so. In fact, it takes at least 3x through before you realize the greatness that is this album. To say it grows on you is an understatement. Mixed in with the usual charm and diversion that is TMBG music, Brooklyn’s Ambassadors of Love have kicked the music up about 10 notches without losing their unique style that has made them one of the greatest Indie bands of all time.

“With the Dark” is an incredibly unique song that mixes at least 4 different tunes into one cohesive masterpiece. Think “Fingertips” from Apollo 18, but all on one track and sans the “please pass the milk please” nuttiness (though, you’ve gotta love this line, “I’m getting tired of all my nautical themes / Bustin’ my pirate hump / Rockin’ my peg-leg stump”.

“Upside Down Frown” is a sarcastic and satirical look at relationships that you’ve got to hear at least 2x before you realize what John’s actually trying to say. “Bee of the Bird of the Moth” is this album’s throw-back to classic TMBG style. (For The Spine, it was “Museum of Idiots”…one of my all-time favorites).

And then there’s the usual TMBG nuttiness: “The Cap’m” is a witty ditty that lyrically reminds me of “Dr. Worm”…”People seem to think you can’t be called the cap’m unless you drive a boat/ Well, I don’t–I don’t”.

And through all of this, they maintain that unique sound. In fact, listening to it for just the second time, my 2 year old yelled out: “Giants Dad!!! Giants!”

All in all, yet another great album from TMBG.